New Paltz resident and developer Luis Martinez was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Jan. 16 outside of his office on Front Street because of a previous detainment in 1997, reports say.
Martinez came to the United States when he was thrree years old with his mother, who later was granted citizenship. He had been detained previously in 1997 when he visited Mexico at the age of 18, and his mother’s citizenship no longer protected him. Since his latest detainment, Martinez has been held in a Goshen ICE facility and has applied for a visa.
Under section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, children born out of the United States can be granted citizenship if the child has one parent or adoptive parent who is a citizen by birth or naturalization, the child is under 18 years old, the child is a lawful permanent resident and if the child is in legal custody of the parent with citizenship. However, the child can only become a citizen if these requirements have been met on or after Feb. 27, 2001.
On Jan. 25, 2017 President Donald Trump issued Executive Order 13,768, Enhancing Public Safety in the United States, which implemented immigration and removal as the priorities of the administration. In 2017, ICE had conducted 143,470 administrative arrests, which is the highest number of administrative arrests over the past three years.
“I don’t think the mission of ICE should be to harm communities and tear apart families in the way that they presently operate,” said Deputy Town Supervisor Daniel Torres.
Torres claims that Martinez is someone who has contributed to and helped shape the character of the New Paltz community in many ways.
“Ultimately, at the end of the day, not having Luis in our community doesn’t make our community safer, it doesn’t make it stronger, it doesn’t make it a better community—it does quite the opposite,” Torres said.
Martinez ran the Lalo Group construction company and worked as a developer, which according to Torres, helped the New Paltz community financially.
“The irony of the situation is that the current narrative that this President is pushing is that immigrants steal our jobs,” said New Paltz resident Ronnie Yastion. “This obviously couldn’t be further from the truth. Mr. Martinez being detained puts the jobs of countless numbers of people in jeopardy through the businesses that he runs, and, rather than stealing jobs, he has created them.”
Since Martinez’s detainment, New Paltz community members have been showing support for Martinez and his family. Yastion and Esopus resident Karen Edelman have organized an event called “Bring Luis Martinez Home!” at La Charla, a restaurant owned by Martinez’s family on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 5:30 p.m.
“New Paltz is a small community and we have to look out for one another. These are warm, generous, kind people who put the community first,” Edelman said. “We wanted to show them that we support them and care for them, and we thought showing up at the restaurant and writing personal messages for Luis would be a nice way to do that.”